Nokia Maps prove instant hit; TomTom not worried

While Nokia's Ovi Store has stumbled badly since launch, the Ovi Maps app has become an instant success with downloads racing past one million per week, with a current average of one every second.

Anssi Vanjoki, executive VP, Nokia, said, "When we announced free walk & drive navigation we knew it would be a game-changer. The number of people now using their Nokia for navigation, and as a result looking for more location-aware software, is growing faster than even we predicted."

Part of the success of Nokia Maps has been to differentiate the app from simpler offerings, such as Google Maps, by adding walk and drive navigation through an investment in Navteq--making the Maps app free also presumably helped.

Nokia Maps is presently in 74 countries and 46 languages, and software developers can now incorporate location-based features into their apps.

However, Nokia's entry into the handset navigation sector has been overplayed, according to the CEO of TomTom, Harold Goddijn--a leading vendor of Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs).

"We need to get away from the impression that the various navigation platforms are competing with each other," said Goddijn. Free navigation on mobile phones is "as old as the road to Rome," he added, claiming that the strategic value of Tele Atlas "is still as big as it was" and the quality of the maps "hard to match."

While TomTom's share price was hit hard when Google and then Nokia announced their intentions, the company's stock price surged last week after it announced better than expected Q4 earnings. The numbers were helped by cost cuts and higher sales from products and services outside its core PND sales being stronger than expected. However, PND sales are still accounting for 75 per cent of total sales.

2010 will be "an important year for positioning ourselves for future growth," Goddijn said.

For more on this story:
Mobile Today
and Total Telecom

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